4. The Carbon Daters
Did I Just Get Lucky?

5. Birth of a Basement Band
6. Avoid El Chapultepec
7. Insulting People at the Open Mic
8. Snake Bit in the Snake Pit
9. Recovering from a Heart Attack with an Ex-Astronaut
10. Howling on the River
11. Children are Pathetic
12. Stripper Music
13. How to Write Songs and Get Divorced
14. NCC 1701 and the Wormholes
15. Denver Needs Another Blues Band Like I Need Another Hole in the Head
16. Annie Jefferson's Journey From the Roller Rink to the Roller Rink
17. A Band Identifies Itself
18. How to Start a Metal Band
19. Four Bands Richard Nixon Would Have Hated
20. Only Fools Think They'll Make a Living Through Music. Only Assholes Succeed
21. Readers Write Back
22. The Son Also Writhes
23. Wilde Delilah, Photographer of the Stars
24. Wherein Strapping Tries to Get Sued
25. Winning Essay Snares Prize
26. A Sound Engineer
Fights Back
27. Gary Capillary
Bleeds Funny
28. Strapping Dons a Fedora to Solve the Case of the Crappy Violnist
29. Yet Another Coffee
Shop Riot

30. A Journey to the Center of the Mindless
31. A Hunka Hunka Elvis Dung
32. Released Repression Reaps Raw Rewards in Resentful Recital
33. Band on the
Running Back
34. In the Battle for Denver's Attention, Local Music Beats the Broncos
35.When Music Sounds Worse Than It Sounds
36. From the Mouths of Babes
37. The End of an Error:
Riff Dies Screaming
38. A Conversation With a Songwriter in City Park
39. Reinventing Funk for These New Bad Days
40. Denver's Biggest Act is Quitting the Scene
41. How the Accordian Killed Denver's Rock and Roll
42. Cashing in on Incompetence
43. Danforth Meets His Maker

In November 2000, I--Gregory Hill--was living in Denver, working at a record store, and playing in goofy rock and country bands, but I really wanted to be a music critic. Lester Bangs and Nick Tosches and that whole rebelious-obnoxious-intellectual-idiocy suited me nicely. Being a pragmatic coward, there was no fucking way I was going to apply this approach to actual musicians, especially within the small-potatoes music ecosystem of Denver.

So, using a ridiculous pseudonym, I got a gig writing ludicrous articles about (mostly) made-up people for a tiny music rag called Riff Music Magazine.

Most of the articles are pretty lousy, but there is some funny stuff.

Actual photo of Strapping Danforth

October 20, 2000

Dear Lois of Riff Music Magazine,

My name is Gregory Hill. A few weeks ago I met a crusty old man in a bar on East Colfax. We started talking about Colorado music and he proved to be real clever. He told me he lives in Ward.  He comes to shows in the "big friggin' city" whenever he can. After a couple of hours of conversation, I said, "You need to write some of this down." He said, "Go to hell." 

But, a week later, when I ran into him in the same place, he gave me a handwritten copy of the following article and said, "If you can get that published, I'll buy you a pitcher of beer." 

The old bastard told me his name was Strapping Danforth. Then he said, "There's a lot more where that came from." 

Herewith, a proxy submission of an unsolicited article.


Gregory Hill

1. History lesson

Rock & Roll was doomed from the moment it was born from the womb of Elvis, doomed because television was its midwife.

Television created Elvis. The kids saw him and copied him: the music the clothes, the dance moves, all parts equally. Television made Rock & Roll.

(Certainly, Chuck, Carl, and Little (etc.) had been playing Rock & Roll before--or concurrently to—Elvis, but it wasn't ROCK & ROLL until after Elvis appeared on TV because until that time the world at large didn't know it existed. Trees were falling left and right but no one heard them until the King karate chopped them down.  Is this just?  It is not.  Is this proof of the manifest racism that lurked/lurks in our American soul?  Of course.)

After Elvis appeared on TV, ROCK & ROLL was born.  The world recognized Chuck, Carl, and Little.  Buddy and Jerry Lee appeared.  Life was grand.

Then things went to hell. First, Carl almost died in a car wreck. Then Elvis went to the army, Chuck went to jail, Little found God, Jerry Lee sinned against God and Man, and Buddy found himself face down and dead in the snow.

Rock & Roll, minus its musicians, should have shriveled up on the spot. But we forget television. The music may have been in the basement but the image was still intact on the front porch in a tight shirt with no bra.

So, as the story goes, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, and a gaggle of other cutie-pies slipped onto Don MacLean's halftime marching band. With the right faces on the tube it didn't matter that their music was a tepid imitation of ROCK & ROLL because Rock & Roll is music AND image (or Sound and Vision, per Mr. Bowie), all parts less equal now that the musicians were out of the picture.

For the next four and a half years, the only people you heard on the radio or saw on the variety shows were fancy-faced assholes. The flame of Rock & Roll grew dim, but that little light was NOT placed under a bushel basket, NO! It was sustained thru the perseverance of surf bands and a group of nutty white kids in the Pacific Northwest who tried to play Rhythm & Blues music .

Then the Beatles arrived and re-kindled the torch, which was nice.  But somehow, they and Dylan and the asshole who murdered MLK, Jr and an army of televisions got everyone confused about the true meaning of Rock & Roll, which was always pretty garbled anyway. 

Let’s wrap it up: eventually, the stupid abandon of the music split off from the image and next thing you know Madonna is trying to hitchhike naked, Michael Jackson’s eating children, and Britney Spears has how hair. 

That’s why you might want to go see The Orangu-tones at the next opportunity.

--Strapping Danforth, December 2000

Surf bands:  Born of Duane Eddy, mariachi, the blues, Rhythm & Blues, middle-eastern scales, and the pulse of the tide, it was a cultural freakshow that explained the whole world of rock without saying a word.  Instrumental surf music never got huge because the people who played it were ugly and stared at their guitars.  Note to the unwise: Dick Dale is surf music.  The Beach Boys are not.  Not in this sense.

The Group of Nutty White Kids in the Pacific Northwest Who Tried to Play Rhythm & Blues: These guys could rock and they were even less popular than the surf bands, probably because they were located almost exclusively in the Pacific Northwest, but it was from this movement—later dubbed Frat Rock—that we got Louie Louie, the only song that ever mattered.  It is from this movement that we got The Orangu-tones.